An early suicide attempt put things in perspective for Shanks. She was in her teens and had given up on life. But by the grace and mercies of God, when her attempt failed, something began to change within her. Shanks knew God had a purpose and a call on her life, and she simply couldn’t keep it herself.
That defining moment didn’t only leave her with a desire to live an abundant and full life, but to walk closer to her Lord and Savior. Since, she’s been doing just that!
Shanks’ award-winning first book, Destined to Live, Despite Me, continues to be a source of hope for those battling effects from a prior suicide attempt. It garnered an enthusiastic Kirkus review, which stated the book was “a commendable guide for finding meaning after considering suicide.”
Her second book, Not Just a Hearer but a Doer (releasing August 2, 2012) challenges the body of Christ to act upon scripture. In the Fall of 2012, she’ll release a third project, entitled Destined to Live, Despite Me – A Cause to Be Thankful.
In spite of her packed writing and speaking schedules, Shanks carves out plenty of time for her family and community. She’s a Sunday School teacher at Riceville Mount Olive Baptist Church (Houston, TX), a Souvenir Ad Book Coordinator for the Christian Arts & Entertainment Group, and the President of the Lighthouse Institute for Girls, a nonprofit mentoring program for high school-age girls.
A wife and grandmother of four, Shanks lives in Houston, Texas. When asked about her busy schedule, she smiles and says, “Indeed our God is good. I know that it is only by His grace and strength that He is allowing me to continue with this much on my plate.” And continue she will.
Check her website, www.YolandaShanks.com, for book events in your area and for weekly wisdom from this lover of life and committed Christ-follower.
When Kelita sings, people pay attention. Her voice is rich and warm and its power and strength capture the ear. She sings from the heart and her personal words and lyrical music penetrate deeply, touching the soul. She brings hope, encouragement and inspiration to those people who hear her songs.
For the past several years, Kelita’s compelling life story, interwoven into her songs has attracted people who have embarked on their own journey of faith and healing. The five-time Juno Nominee is one of Canada’s most dynamic Inspirational performers, dedicated to sharing her life’s journey with honesty and directness delivered in her own unique, creative way.
Kelita knew she had a passion for music from the age of four, where she grew up on an Alberta ranch. At the age of nine, she began to play the piano and then at only eleven began to write songs, shortly after her father’s suicide. Song writing became a means of communicating her inner most feelings. She knew even back then, that it was a very special gift from God. Music continued to be a lifeline as she grew up, especially when tragedy struck again. “My mother died of breast cancer when I was fifteen. It was extremely painful. I wrote songs, prose and poetry to cope with the emptiness and lack of love.”
Two years later, her oldest brother Jimmy died of a heroin overdose leaving her numb and broken. In addition to her music, Kelita coped with her grief through the support of her church and a newfound relationship with God. “I was there five nights a week,” she remembers. “I was in the youth choir, the senior choir and a gospel band, where I sang solos and was in the youth group.” Kelita’s longtime desire to perform had actually started with a gospel band, The Love and Truth Company. “We went on tour when I was 16,” she says. “We played in six different states down the West Coast. It was an amazing experience. My first album was with that group, and had two of my own songs on it.”
After graduating from high school, Kelita escaped the wicked stepfather and moved to Toronto to study drama at York University. Upon completion, she won parts in “Gypsy” at the Port Dover Lighthouse Festival and “Godspell,” performed at Toronto’s Bayview Playhouse and Bathurst Street Theatre. Although Kelita enjoyed the theatre, she felt a deep longing to pursue her music. “My song writing was taking a back seat. I wasn’t able to express myself,” she explains. Passing on an opportunity to join the Toronto Second City comedy troupe, Kelita decided to take an important step and record her first album.
Venturing into country music, Kelita began her successful recording career, a career that brought her numerous musical accolades and career achievements. Included in these were the Canadian Country Association’s Entertainer of the Year Nomination; the Vista Rising Star of the Year Award; and Four Juno Award Nominations (Canadian equivalent of the Grammy). Kelita also gave a break to a young aspiring 19-year-old from Timmins Ontario named Eileen Twain who sang back up on Kelita’s hit Song “Too Hot to Handle.” We all know that young woman today as Shania Twain. Kelita had a strong national radio presence and became a frequent guest on many popular television shows across the country including the Tommy Hunter Show, Nashville Now, CMT and Much Music. Kelita had an infectious tenacity and drive both on and off the stage.
She was never afraid to express her passion for performing either through her exuberant live performances or her zany, yet down to earth comedic characters that are still very much alive and loved today. After years spent climbing to the top of her field, a near fatal automobile accident changed Kelita’s personal life and music career dramatically. A pending recording contract with Capital Records, Nashville, fell by the wayside as a result of Capital’s corporate restructuring; and her thirteen-year relationship with her husband/manager came to an end.
Stepping back from the spotlight, Kelita knew changes were desperately needed and she decided to take a break and spend this time dealing with her childhood tragedies and recent losses. This began her journey of healing which reflected a new transparency in her songwriting. The songs she was writing now were heartbreaking in their honesty and attracted recording artists Michael Burgess and Susan Aglukark. Kelita and Susan co-wrote “Breaking Down” and “Kathy I” for her Triple Platinum Album “This Child.” A few years later Kelita married musician Gord Lemon who then became her producer and co-writer. Their first collaboration garnered them the hit country song “The Strong One.” Together they have created and produced all of Kelita’s award winning Inspirational music CDs including “Naked Soul”, for the 2000 Juno nomination for Gospel Album of the Year; “Because of Love”, winner of the 2003 C.G.M.A. Inspirational Album of the Year and “Spirit & Truth’s” nominations for Inspirational Album and song of the year in 2004.
Inspired by her deep understanding of the pain associated with childhood trauma, Kelita has, in more recent years developed a passion for social justice. Her music had already taken her to many countries and allowed her to impact more people than she could ever have imagined, but the “Heavenly Night” Christmas CD funded an advocacy initiative she undertook in support of young Cambodian children rescued from the human trafficking trade. It has led to even more meaningful adventures which she continues to pursue. Through Kelita’s Heavenly Night initiative $250,000 has been sent over to Cambodia through Ratanak International for the rescue and restoration of young survivors of the child human trafficking trade there.
In the fall of 2010 Kelita produced and released her first ‘live’ Christmas Concert DVD “Heavenly Night with Kelita.” Still living her dream, Kelita released “Heart of a Woman” her new piano based album project in October of 2010. The CD has received several nominations to date and been recognized in the literary world for best song lyrics from the Christian Word Guild of Canada for “Bella” – her song inspired by a young girl who she met while in Cambodia – sold into human trafficking slavery at the age of twelve and “Deep Dark Secret” – a modern-day anthem for both survivors and victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Kelita’s poignant and meaningful messages are reaching the hearts of many all around the world through her songs and videos. When not writing, recording and developing her own humanitarian projects Kelita is a keynote speaker both in Canada and the USA with a faith-based women’s event called “WomanWise.” Here she sings, speaks, performs her comedy and advocates for children around the world on behalf of World Vision. Kelita’s ministry literally reaches around the world as she spends time speaking to and encouraging women survivors. Kelita is currently writing her memoirs entitled, “The Strong One”. . Kelita and her husband Gord Lemon have one son in university and live just outside of Vancouver British Columbia.
Visit Kelita at: http://www.kelita.com
Paulette is a wife, mother, grandmother, Bible teacher, radio host, and writer. She has been mentoring and teaching women for years though seminars, workshops and conferences. Paulette’s desire is to empower, influence and cultivate women to move forward while dealing with issues that hinder women from fulfilling their God given purpose. Combining enthusiasm with an energetic speaking style, audiences describe Paulette’s presentation as inspiring, enriching and encouraging. She is committed to speaking a message that is always uplifting and edifying.
As a writing coach, she is the visionary behind her own writing ministry called “Write Now,” a literary program that specializes in coaching aspiring writers in the areas of creativity, development, and publication of Christian books. As a member of PFLPublishing, a writing, editing and book marketing business, she serves as the marketing specialist.
Paulette Harper Johnson serves in ministry as an Elder with her husband Sr. Pastor Tony E. Johnson at Word of Faith Worship Center in Bradenton, FL.
Visit Paulette at: http://www.pauletteharper.com